B/R NHL Staff Roundtable: 2022 All-Star Mock Draft

Bleacher Report NHL StaffFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2022

B/R NHL Staff Roundtable: 2022 All-Star Mock Draft

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Let's have some fun, NHL fans.

    There's nothing wrong with the current NHL All-Star Game format. It's fun seeing division rivals take to the ice as teammates in a thrilling 3-on-3 contest featuring the best players in the world.

    But we here at B/R miss the aspect of the fantasy All-Star Draft. It brings us back to the playground—or in this case, the hockey rink—of picking sides and playing games.

    Here are the ground rules for our version of the fantasy draft.

    • The writers could select from the pool of players that were selected for the 2022 NHL All-Star Game, including players that are injured and won't be going to the game. Injury replacements were also eligible to be chosen. 
    • Each would have three skaters and a goalie.
    • The draft was conducted in "snake-draft" order with the person with the last pick in the first round getting the first pick in the second round.

    The results of our draft lottery were Lyle Richardson, Franklin Steele and Lyle Fitzsimmons. Read on to find out why they made their selections and the reasoning behind their roster construction.

Team Richardson: McDavid, Makar, Connor and Campbell

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    Larry MacDougal/Associated Press

    The 3-on-3 All-Star format favors swift-skating offensive talent. Hence the reason I chose three of the NHL's fastest-skating scorers in Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar and Winnipeg Jets left wing Kyle Connor for my team. 

    Having won the first pick in our draft, the choice of McDavid was easy. The 25-year-old Oilers captain is the best player in the world today. A three-time winner of the Art Ross Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award as well as a two-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner, McDavid is a supremely gifted offensive presence whose dazzling plays at high speed are well-suited for 3-on-3 play.

    McDavid needs a sniper and Kyle Connor was an ideal choice. The 25-year-old Winnipeg Jets winger is a three-time 30-plus goal scorer currently sitting among the top-10 goal scorers with 25 goals in 42 games. He has the speed to keep pace with McDavid and has faced him enough in their Western Conference matchups to be familiar with his style. It would also be cool hearing "Connor to McDavid!" on the play-by-play.

    Makar has established himself among the league's elite defensemen in just three NHL seasons. A superb skater with outstanding puck-moving skills, the 23-year-old Colorado Avalanche star also leads all blueliners this season with 18 goals. His puck-possession abilities are ideally suited for the 3-on-3 format. He'll keep the puck away from opponents while making quick defensive zone exits.

    All-Star Games tend to be high-scoring affairs, but you still need quality goaltending to win. The Toronto Maple Leafs' Jack Campbell will be a good fit here. A late-blooming star, the 30-year-old "Soupy" has a record of 21 wins, six losses and 3 overtime losses this season. He's tied for second in shutouts (four) with the New York Islanders' Ilya Sorokin and among the top-10 with a 2.30 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.

    - Lyle Richardson

Team Steele: Kaprizov, Larkin, Josi and Andersen

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    If the draft had been about compiling the best team for even-strength play, I certainly would have made different selections. But this is a 3-on-3 overtime-style tournament, which shuffled the way players are valued. Starting a team from scratch and Auston Matthews is still available? You take him, no questions asked.

    This format is different, however.

    I passed on Matthews because, somehow, he hasn't scored a single goal in overtime this season. It'd be fair to point out that the Toronto Maple Leafs haven't played much overtime in 2021-22, but that made me even timider about asking him to anchor my 3-on-3 team.

    I snagged Kirill Kaprizov because he might be one of the best players in the NHL with open ice. He's not on McDavid's level, but no one is. With all the space that this format will create, I wanted to build around a player who can take over games with his skill and speed.

    Lucky for me, I managed to land another forward who thrives in that environment in Dylan Larkin. He's got speed to burn and is tied for the league lead in overtime goals this year with three. I loved the idea of Larkin and Kaprizov playing off of each other's haste and quick decision making, and believe they'd be more than capable of hanging with the teams my compatriots have pieced together.

    On the back end, I passed on more offensive-minded defenseman for All-Star replacement, Roman Josi. That's because literally, no one in the league is better at breaking the puck out of the defensive zone, and I want my forward duo to have possession as much as possible.

    Josi is used to having play run through him, and he'd be capable of springing a streaking Kaprizov or Larkin at any given moment. Two outstanding transition speedsters plus one of the NHL's best breakout passers? Check and check.

    Assuming that trio doesn't score the first time they have the puck, goalie Frederik Andersen is there to back them up. Among goalies with at least 10 games played this season, he's third overall in GSAA with 16.5. He's also tied for second in wins despite playing six fewer games than the leader, Andrei Vasilevskiy. GAA is a remarkably flawed stat, but his 2.01 is eye-watering, and he's only had one RBS (a start where his save percentage was under 85 percent) all year.

    I'll take that kind of consistency in my crease, and Team Steele will gladly take the ice as the underdogs in this tourney. 

    - Franklin Steele

Team Fitzsimmons: Draisaitl, Matthews, Fox and Vasilevskiy

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    Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

    I've been a hockey fan since I was a kid.

    Growing up around Buffalo and watching players like Gil Perreault and Rick Martin on some pretty good Sabres teams in the '70s and '80s made me appreciate the game when it’s played on a high level.

    And there's no higher level, at least skill-wise, than All-Stars playing 3-on-3.

    So, as I worked through the draft process and compiled my team, I took into consideration the level of offensive prowess it'd take to compete with my B/R brethren.

    Given the last pick in the first round, it was clear the sublime skill of McDavid would be unavailable. But selecting at that position did mean choices three and four were mine, meaning I'd have two players in the fold (two of the first four chosen) before my rivals got beyond their first picks.

    Given that spot, my first player—Edmonton's Leon Draisaitl—seemed a no brainer.

    The rugged German is a fluid skater, a precise passer and a deadly shooter, which means he'd be able to play any role needed on less-crowded ice. And what does a wannabe playmaker need more than a finisher? Enter Toronto's Auston Matthews, who's scored more goals (228) since his 2016-17 arrival than any player not named Alex Ovechkin (234), while playing 31 fewer games than the prolific Russian.

    But it's not just about offense.

    On the off chance the puck does stray to the wrong side of center, we needed a responsible, yet still offensively adept blueliner to restart the momentum. No better model was available at pick No. 9 than reigning Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox, whose 116 assists since the start of 2019-20 are 11th overall in the league alongside a plus/minus ratio of plus-53 that’s seventh over the same time span.

    Last, but not least, we needed a goalie.

    A guy who'd not only make routine saves but also had a pedigree to suggest he could handle spotlight moments against the highest levels of competition.

    In other words, we needed Andrei Vasilevskiy.

    The Tampa Bay netminder reached the All-Star break with the lead league in goalie wins (25) alongside top-10 positions in saves (956, sixth), goals-against average (2.23, seventh) and save percentage (.922, 10th). Oh, and let’s not forget he's the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner, too, and has finished five consecutive playoff series with shutouts.

    Thanks for playing, my B/R writing friends, but this thing is really no contest.

    Drive home safely.

    - Lyle Fitzsimmons

Biz and Nasher's All-Star Teams

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    But wait, there's more.

    Nasher and NHL on TNT's very own Paul Bissonnette conducted their own version of a All-Star Fantasy Draft recently. Which team would you pick?

    Disagree with the staff, Biz or Nasher? Make sure to submit your comments below and sound off your thoughts on the 2022 NHL All-Star Game.